Young person NRM, writes about the constant pressure on children and young people today and how important it is to avoid using success or fail labels. “Some people are naturally adept at brushing off criticism; others less so,” says NRM, a young person who writes for us about child mental health issues and anxiety. “To carry, indefinitely, any unnecessary and cumbersome negativity is highly undesirable for anybody’s mental wellbeing!” She also emphasises the need for young people to hear positive messages, in order to learn how to be positive about themselves, rather than constantly having to meet the demands of others.
When it comes to anxiety, NRM says: “So much of ourselves gets lost when we are anxious. We lose touch with our interests, and our personality and we stop growing and learning.”
Being young today, is a time of great emotional strain and psychological pressure. Failure is feared and so will be avoided at great cost to the developing self, if children and young people are not encouraged to learn from mistakes. NRM is clear that pressure comes from many places and the on-line pressure continues after the end of the school day and can be particularly harmful. The pressure to be perfect, to look great, to succeed in every way, is overwhelming for many young people and comes from many places - including schools. Now even young children are reporting that they too feel anxious and “stressed”.
The need to learn from "getting it wrong" and going back and working out what happened and how to change it, is core to learning and individual development. NRM says that children and young people need the chance to grow and learn in environments which allow them to "learn about themselves rather than be put under constant pressure to conform to the needs and expectations of others".
The ACP has recently helped to launch MTAS https://morethanascore.co.uk/, a campaign which links parents’ groups, child psychologists, child psychotherapists, trade unions and experts in early years and primary education. It is calling for a method of assessment which doesn’t score, rate or restrict children into a success or failure “box” they may then have difficulty climbing out of.